A Natural Disaster
By: Wayne Brown
The impeccably dressed young prosecuting attorney for the Department of Justice made his way into the courtroom. It seemed that he had timed his arrival such that all were in their seats and awaiting him to show. He carried himself with a swagger and a confidence that all but dripped from his personality. Nothing seemed to please him more than the smell of a potential conviction. I sat at the defense table, the accused, with my band of lawyers seemingly arrayed in their J.C. Penny custom polyester suits wondering if I had a snowball’s chance of obtaining a fair trial.
My thoughts were interrupted by the Bailiff’s call, “Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye…the 113th Judicial Circuit Court of the State of Texas is now in session with the honorable Judge Tom Stanley presiding. All rise as the Judge enters the courtroom.” And as quickly as the words settled on the room the judge was in his high back chair and rapping the gavel lightly for all to be seated. The judge immediately moved to the business at hand.
“We are here today to try the case of The Department of Justice versus Brown. Bailiff read the charges please.”
“The Department of Justice versus Wayne Brown, docket case #605798 filed on the 1st day of January 2012. The charges so state that the defendant, Mr. Wayne Brown, did woefully, negligently, and unlawfully allow two Silver-Leaf Maple trees to die a slow grievous death in his yard. The charge further stipulates that said Mr. Brown was fully aware of his act and did so with malice and forethought. Mr. Brown is charged with two counts of first degree murder and two counts of conspiracy to undermine national laws. Charges were filed on the part of the United States Government as the plaintiff in this case,” Stated the bailiff as he stood before the courtroom.
“Will the attorneys for the parties to the suit please approach the bench,” Judge Stanley summoned.
My attorney, Chester Howe, moved toward the bench. He was a senior partner with the law firm representing my case, Duie, Cheatam, & Howe. The cocky young prosecutor also made his way to the bench sauntering as if this was already a slam-dunk for him.
“Gentlemen, Mr. Brown has requested a jury trial in this case. Are both of you ready with you opening remarks for the jury?” Both lawyers nodded in the affirmative and the judge signaled to the bailiff to bring in the jury who was sequestered in a room adjacent to the court. Each of the twelve slowly entered their assigned seating area hardly taking their eyes off of me while they made their way. Suddenly, I felt guilty.
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, the prosecuting attorney, Chad Cruise, will present the opening remarks for the government’s case against Mr. Brown,” Judge Stanley instructed the jury.
“Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen,” Cruise spoke as he rose from his seat at the prosecution table and moved to the railing in front of the jury box. “It is the intention of the Department of Justice to prove on behalf of the federal government that Mr. Wayne Brown is in violation of the 28th Amendment to the Constitution which so stipulates that Mother Nature in the form of all living things is recognized to have the same rights to exist and flourish within the boundaries of this country as any man, woman, or child. Our evidence with regard to Mr. Brown will show that over the course of a fifteen year timeframe, while he occupied his current residence, Mr. Brown did negligently, woefully, and with malice and criminal intent take actions which terminated the life of two Silver-Leaf Maple trees occupying space on his property. The evidence will show these trees were in existence prior to Mr. Brown’s acquisition of the property and were in good health when the sales transaction of the property took place. Witnesses will offer testimony to support such claims and allow you to arrive at a verdict of guilty and do your civic duty in taking this animal off the street,” Snarled the cocky young prosecutor as he turned away from the jury and pointed an accusing finger at me. With that, he nodded to the jury and returned to his seat.
My attorney, Chester Howe, then rose and walked to a point near the jury box rail. “Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, my client, Mr. Wayne Brown, is but a humble citizen of America just trying to make a living and take care of his family. He has no record of a criminal past nor is there any implication which would spell intent on his part to carry out such an act for which he is accused here in this court today. We have every reason to believe that we can prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the two Silver-Leaf Maple trees occupying Mr. Brown’s property did indeed die but they did so simply on the basis of living out the normal life cycle of a tree of that species. Witnesses will testify to that fact here in this court. I beseech you all, as citizens just like Mr. Brown, to consider the consequences of these charges very seriously and be absolutely certain that anything the prosecution puts before you in this courtroom convinces you beyond the shadow of a doubt that Mr. Brown is guilty of such charges. If, indeed, you cannot reach that level of confirmation within your own heart, then I would ask that you offer Mr. Brown the benefit of the doubt and acquit him of all charges in this case allowing him to live out his life as a law-abiding American citizen. Thank You.” With that, Chester returned to his seat beside me at the defense table.
Judge Stanley immediately spoke, “Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, the prosecution will present its case and the associated evidence first. Mr. Cruise you may proceed in calling your first witness.”
“Thank you, Your Honor. The people call the defendant, Wayne Brown, to the stand. And Your Honor, the prosecution would like it noted in the record that we consider Mr. Brown a hostile witness who is testifying only under coercion of a federal warrant,” Attorney Cruise stated.
“So noted,” Said the Judge nodding to his court recorder. “Proceed with your questioning.”
I stepped into the witness box adjacent to the judge’s station. The bailiff took the steps to swear me in properly and nodded to the young attorney.
“Now, Mr. Brown, is it not true that you purchased a home in 1994 which had four large Silver leaf Maple trees which had been previously planted in the front yard area of said property?” Prosecutor Cruise began.
“Why yes, yes I did, but you must understand…,” I replied. The young attorney immediately cut me off.
“A simple yes or no answer will suffice to the question, Mr. Brown. Please don’t make me ask the judge to remind you.” Cruise fired back.
“Now is it not true that after you took possession of the property, the two Maple trees in question began to deteriorated and show a visible decline in their health,” Cruise probed.
“Well you see, Sir, that’s not exactly the..” I began to state.
Cruise was pacing the floor and he whirled and yelled, “I want the truth!”
Rage immediately over took me. I stood up in the witness box and screamed, “The truth? The truth? Why you snot-nose little dip-shit tinhorn attorney, you can’t handle the truth! I know your type, every kid in the neighborhood kicked your ass and took your football. You snibbling pile of federal crap! You were hiding in your little Ivy League law school while men like me were roaming the jungles of Vietnam and the sands of Iraq. We bled for you and your right to drag us into these proceedings to make a mockery out of the laws of this land, any you want the truth. You go to hell!
Judge Stanley began rapping his gavel hard on the podium as the courtroom turned into chaos. The judge yelled over and over, “I’ll clear this courtroom, I’ll clear this courtroom!”
And the curtain slowly descended closing out the final scene of this one-act play.
Now, I wrote this little scenario for good reason. Last week, I heard a news report stating that an activist group in the San Francisco area had begun working with other environmentalists to solicit our federal government to give Mother Nature, “all the rights and benefits of us human beings who occupy the earth”. Now, at first glance, that might sound rather amusing to you but I promise you that if you think about it a while, it becomes far less amusing. Should such legislation be written into the law, the above absurd scenario could actually become a reality in our world.
Aw, come on, you say, do you really believe something this far-fetched could have any legs. My reply is a quick, “oh, hell yes!” Litigation attorneys all over America began to drool at the possibilities. Can you imagine, a class action law suit in the State of Washington filed on behalf of the entire population of Douglas Fir trees against Weyerhaeuser citing brutality, undue stress, torture, and indentured servitude? Given a population that large, can you imagine the money involved in either winning the case or just gaining a settlement.
Of course such legislation would also mean that no one would ever go to the store and purchase a plant again. In the first place, it would be against the law to sell them. Secondly, it would be against the law to buy them. Any plant possessing “human rights” would rightly be classified as a subject of slavery under such conditions…a clear violation of the laws of the United States. Things would change greatly, the plants would have to “voluntarily” come to our houses likely under some agreement in which we would pay in certain money to a general fund designed for the long term care and feeding of the plants…much like Social Security. Then, of course, while the plants were at your house, you would be held totally responsible for their welfare and charged accordingly with a crime if they were not returned in acceptable condition.
This proposal has implications which are so far reaching one cannot begin to name all the possibilities. Even the Supreme Court in consideration of a human fetus is reluctant to clearly define when “life as a human being” has actually begun fearing the implications which such a decision could have on abortion issues. Clearly, this proposal regarding Mother Nature has far broader implications and complexities which will place all of us into legal jeopardy and potentially take the regulation and prosecution of American industry to even greater heights than has ever been seen in our history.
If insanity and absurdity were a viral infection, America would be in a pandemic state of emergency in light of such a proposal. For those of us who still have our nuts torqued to the proper level, we can only hope that we can raise the awareness of our elected officials to let them know that Mother Nature has no place on the issue of human rights under the guiding principles of our Constitution. To find otherwise would be outrageous.
I will not go so far as to mention the name of this activist group for I dare not plug their effort by dropping their name. If you doubt what I say, I suggest you simply Google it and it should not be too difficult to find. I have written this article a bit tongue in cheek but what I relate to you here is absolutely a situation which can not go unanswered by the American public unless of course you really want to live in a world where a tree can sue you as indicated in the scenario above. Give it some thought.
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